Senate leaders strike deal on 15 judicial nominees, setting up early recess

Senate leaders strike deal on 15 judicial nominees, setting up early recess
© Stefani Reynolds

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Eighty-eight years of debt pieties Ernst says Trump should sign defense policy bill with military base renaming provision MORE (R-Ky.) and Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Public awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names MORE (N.Y.) have struck a deal to vote on a package of 15 judges and recess the Senate until the Nov. 6 election.

All of the nominees, including three circuit court nominees, are expected to pass despite opposition from liberal groups that fought an all-out-battle to block Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughKavanaugh rejects Illinois GOP request to block rule banning large gatherings McGrath fends off Booker to win Kentucky Senate primary Trump's mark on federal courts could last decades MORE earlier this month.

The development is welcome news for vulnerable incumbents in tough races eager to get back home to campaign.

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The Senate had been scheduled to be in session until Oct. 26.

Now most lawmakers likely won’t return to Washington until the week after the Nov. 6 election.

The deal is a bigger help to Democrats, who have more members of their conference locked in tough races, but it also helps vulnerable Republicans, such as Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGianforte halts in-person campaigning after wife, running mate attend event with Guilfoyle Trump administration grants funding extension for Texas testing sites Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE (R-Texas).

“I’m always happier to be in Texas,” Cruz told reporters when asked whether he would prefer to be campaigning or slowing working through judicial nominees over the next two weeks.

Liberal activists criticized Schumer Thursday afternoon for even considering the deal.

“There is no reason Democrats should be making any deals with Mitch McConnell to make it easier to confirm more radical conservatives to the courts. Especially not after Kavanaugh,” Leah Greenberg, the co-executive director of Indivisible, a liberal advocacy group, tweeted.

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Joan McCarter, a writer for Daily Kos, an activist liberal blog, argued that Democrats should stay in Washington to drag out consideration of the nominees while colleagues in tough races go home to campaign.

“You would have plenty of Democratic senators willing to stick around D.C. to gum up the Senate works while your red state incumbents could go home and campaign. They need you to be fighting McConnell, particularly after the Brett Kavanaugh debacle,” she wrote Thursday afternoon.

McConnell at around 4:30 pm Thursday circulated a hotline request to vote on the nominees, with two minutes of debate on each equally divided between the parties.

The chamber began voting on the package of nominees shortly before 5 pm.

The nominees include David James Porter of Pennsylvania to sit on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Ryan Nelson of Idaho to sit on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and Richard Sullivan of New York to sit on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Some District Court nominees include William Ray of Georgia to serve for the Northern District of Georgia, Liles Clifton Burke of Alabama to the North District of Alabama, Michael Juneau of Louisiana to serve for the Western District of Louisiana and Mark Norris Sr. of Tennessee to the Western District of Tennessee.